Concerns over planned 2,500-home development in Twyford

A borough councillor for Twyford has raised concerns over outline plans for a new sustainable neighbourhood to the east of the village.

The proposals by homebuilder Berkeley are currently out for public consultation.

Plans include 2,500 low carbon homes, as well as new business space and community amenities such as parks, shops, a health centre, primary school and nursery.

The homes, which would be designed individually to ‘respect local character’, would see 35 per cent available to people in the local area through affordable housing schemes.

The housing could include a mixture of key worker, affordable rented and shared ownership properties.

The new neighbourhood, called Twyford Gardens would be ‘directly connected’ to the main line train services and the Elizabeth Line through a new railway station.

A mixture of new infrastructure would be provided, including a relief road to ‘ease’ congestion in the centre of Twyford, a new local bus interchange, and a network of open green spaces, parks and wildlife corridors, such as newly made wetlands, ponds, woodland, swales, hedgerows and tree belts.

The existing habitats will be ‘carefully enhanced, persevered and joined together with new natural spaces’.

The landscape would ‘support more wildlife’ and also be open for the community with green walking and cycling routes and a mixture of community gardens, parks, sports pitches, playing fields and allotments.

Developers say the proposals could be an ‘alternative’ to the ‘additional large-scale developments’ in the south of Wokingham Borough, proposed in the draft Local Plan that is currently being consulted on.

Discussing the outline proposals, Cllr Stephen Conway (Lib Dem, Twyford), who previously said he was ‘utterly opposed’ to the plans and that they would affect Twyford ‘disastrously’, explained: “The developers are clearly keen to pursue this site. But it is not in the draft local plan and its green belt status makes it unlikely it will find its way into the final version.

“It would nearly double the size of Twyford and Ruscombe. It would place enormous pressure in local infrastructure.

“It would add greatly to pollution at the village crossroads, as vehicles going from the new development to the [existing] station would go through the crossroads to get there."

He added: “I have no confidence that the developers would deliver a new station.

“If by some means they got the site into the local plan, I suspect they would then find the new station impossibly expensive to deliver and the idea would then be dropped, leaving us with the problem I described with a great increase in traffic trying to reach the existing station.”

A spokesperson for Berkeley said: “Local authorities can review Green Belt boundaries when they update their Local Plans.

“In this case Twyford Gardens is sustainably located close to the borough’s best public transport links, within an area of exceptionally high housing need and would help to reduce development pressures on the south of the Borough where 97 per cent of homes have been built in recent years.”

To view the outline proposals visit: www.twyfordgardens.co.uk

Residents can also respond to the draft Local Plan consultation here and provide their feedback. This consultation for the draft Local Plan closes on Monday, January 24 and 5pm.

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